Werder Bremen 0 – 2 Borussia Dortmund – Werder gifts away all three points

Friday night saw one of Dortmund worst performances so far this season but the black and yellows managed to take all three points anyway.  This was only the third time in Bundesliga history that Bremen failed to score against Dortmund at home, the last time being back in 1996.

Going into the match Werder Bremen were looking for their fifth straight home win. Dortmund have traditionally not fared well at the Weserstadion, only winning 2 out of the last ten away matches against Werder Bremen. However, Dortmund have managed to turn their downward trend around in recent weeks with wins against Mainz and Augsburg. One particular fun stat gave reason for hope amongst the Dortmund fans: Bremen have never beaten Dortmund at home during the Freimarkt, the beer festival in Bremen. As it turned out, the Freimarkt started tonight…

Both coaches had only minor injury problems in their squad before the match. Klopp had to do without Schmelzer, while Bremen’s Marko Arnautovic was banned from the match. Klopp chose surprisingly to start Patrick Owomoyela instead of the Polish international Piszcek on right. Bremen’s 5 million euro signing Mehmet Ekici had to take place on the bench again, while Naldo had his first start since the 09/10 season.


Werder Bremen: Mielitz – Sokratis, Naldo, Wolf, Schmitz – Bargfrede – Fritz, Hunt – Marin – Pizarro, Rosenberg

Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Owomoyela, Subotic, Hummels, Löwe – Bender, Gündogan – Grosskreutz, Götze, Perisic – Lewandowski

First half: Perisic changes complexion of the game

Both coaches stuck to their usual formations, with Schaaf playing a 4-4-2 diamond and Klopp playing his version of the 4-2-3-1. Schaaf chose to give Claudio Pizarro a number of defensive chores, making the Peruvian cover a lot of ground only 24 hours after he had returned to Bremen after his appearance for his national side. Bremen looked at times more like a 4-1-2-2-1 formation in defense, with Swedish international Markus Rosenberg lurking up top for long balls.

Bargfrede and Subotic fighting for the ball in the air.

Rosenberg almost got at the end of such a long ball after 32 minutes, but his first touch let him down and Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller collected the ball quite easily. The first half saw Werder dominating possession with Dortmund primarily focused on defending. Even though Werder controlled the game for most of the first 45 minutes they did not manage to produce more danger than this half chance for Rosenberg and the shot Pizarro fired from 11 meters after 30 minutes. The replay showed that the ball would have missed the goal, and Dortmund defender Mats Hummels blocked the ball anyway.

The Werder defense did allow Dortmund to create a couple of half chances though. The best of these came after 20 minutes when left back Chris Löwe got forward and shot from 20 meters. Werder keeper Sebastian Mielitz had no problems whatsoever with the shot. Four minutes later Werder’s second choice keeper was lucky not to concede the first goal of the match when Götze narrowly missed the goal with a great shot from 18 meters.

Despite Bremen’s dominance, it was Dortmund who broke the deadlock after 42 minutes: Lewandowski managed to shake off two Werder players, and laid the ball off to Bender, who put Croatian international Perisic alone in front of goal. Perisic fired the ball into the net from 9 meters, putting the Borussians 1-0 ahead before the half time break. Before scoring, Perisic had done little but get himself booked after a tackle against the Greek right back Sokratis. His goal, and his first card however would change the complexion of the game in the second half.

Second half: 10 men Dortmund make life difficult for Werder

The first talking point of the second half came after just 47 minutes. Sokratis had managed to get a clear run on the right side and was storming towards the goal, when Perisic decided to launch a brutal challenge on the Greek, mostly hitting the right back’s knee and not the ball as he claimed afterwards. Referee Florian Mayer, who did make a few strange calls during the game, had no choice but to send goal scorer off, leaving Dortmund with ten men on the pitch. Klopp reacted by changing his formation to a 4-2-2-1, leaving Lewandowski up top to hold on to the ball, while the rest of the team had to focus on defending.

Werder managed to produce a few decent chances after Dortmund were down to ten men. After Gündogan lost the ball at the edge of the area Pizarro found Wolf 9 meters in front of goal. Gündogan’s former team-mate at Nuremberg showed the 42.500 spectators in the Weserstadion why he is defender and not an attacker by thrashing his effort several meters over the bar. Four minutes later Philip Bargfrede managed to stumble into Dortmund’s 16 yard box, and had two players in front of him he could pass to. But, instead of choosing the onside Swedish international Markus Rosenberg, Bargfrede passed the ball to Aaron Hunt who scored. However, the former German international was clearly offside, and the goal was disallowed.

Hummels won 14 out of his 22 duels, and put in another great performance. The Dortmund defender was probably the best player on the pitch tonight.

Bremen’s biggest chance of the night came after 66 minutes, when Lukas Schmitz had broken through into the penalty area and fired the ball goalwards with enormous power. The ball was unfortunately deflected by Patrick Owomoyela, and hit the crossbar to the relief of Roman Weidenfeller. Six minutes later the former Bremen player Owomoyela all but decided the game: Mats Hummels found Owomoyela with a bicycle kick six meters in front of goal, and the former German international put the ball into the net.

Bremen only managed to produce a number of half chances after Dortmund’s second goal. Centre back Naldo certainly seemed to have the impression that shooting from all sorts of distances would help.

Conclusion: Werder running out of steam, Dortmund just getting started

Werder Bremen have had an easy start to their season, mostly playing teams from the mid- and lower regions of the table. The green and whites have had struggled before when meeting teams from the top half of the table, namely Leverkusen and Hannover. Werder seemingly dominated this match. Most stats went in favor of the northerns. To name a few: Possession: 60% – 40%, shots on goal 26 – 10 and passes completed 399 – 151. However, Werder managed never to put Dortmund into a tight spot. Dortmund were by far the better team when it mattered.

Tonight saw Werder displaying an enormous lack of creativity. Werder failed to utilize the room out wide when Dortmund was down to ten men. The team from the Weser was simply not ruthless enough in front of goal, wasting the few decent chances they managed to create.

Dortmund however, are slowly starting to find themselves again. The team from Western-Germany displayed an entirely new side of themselves: They created only two clear-cut chances, but managed to score twice. After the BVB’s excellent start a number of factors have kept them from picking up from where they left of last season.  Injuries have been one factor, and  another factor has been the length of time that Gündogan seemingly needed to fit into the team. Slowly these issues have been resolved. Dortmund are looking like a contender for the Champions League places again, while Werder needs to figure out how they can turn things around away against Augsburg next week.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.


  1. @Paine Thanks for the kind words. Great to have you aboard. And I agree on Perisic — he has adapted to Bundesliga play pretty quickly.

  2. that’s better from BVB. No Piszcek, no Schmelzer and Kagawa, and they turn into a counterattack team.

    Excellent – Hummels was by far the best player last night. Clean at the back, and even assisted a goal. Clearly, with the absence of Sahin, Hummels has really been the REAL star of BVB this year.

  3. Excellent analysis Niklas. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy game for you to watch.

    I completely agree with you on Bremen’s lack of creativity. To me it seemed that they were far too impatient on the attack, especially in the 2nd half, and they ended up getting caught offside far too often when they tried to push the attack. It totally killed their momentum. Of course they were sort of forced into this style of play by Dortmund’s stonewall defending.

    A match vs Augsburg may just be the tonic Werder need to regain some confidence.

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